Schumann Symphonic Works, Vol 1V

Kopatchinskaja/WDR SO/Holliger

Audite

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HERE at last is the fourth volume of Schumann’s complete symphonic works, featuring Heinz Holliger conducting the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra and soloists on the record label Audite. The new disc, with Schumann’s best-loved and most-dismissed concertos, for piano and violin respectively, has left me speechless in two respects. Moldovan-born violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja plays the Violin Concerto with an elemental conviction I have not heard. Her attack is phenomenal and she obviously believes every note she is playing. In the melting slow movement she will break your heart; and she makes structural sense of the finale, while Holliger helps simply by observing Schumann’s reiterated tempo instruction: “Not too fast.” Alas, there is a caveat: in Denes Varjon’s account of the Piano Concerto, I thought I detected the thud of a foot beating on the floor, repeatedly. I got the headphones on to listen close-up. It’s Varjon. How can that happen these days? Couldn’t the engineers hear it? It’s a blemish.

Michael Tumelty